The city was still a mess with people panicking and the authorities trying to figure out the next steps in dealing with the power issues. Newo had woken up to a distant bang that she later learned was the plant exploding. But she didn't see the message by the man in the metal mask. She lacked the internal implants for AR or projected feeds. And her console was in another room. Which the next morning she found the screen ruined and the CPU over heated. The drives however were fine she just needed to have her father get replacements for the broken parts.

Her small device for transactions and messages buzzed on her bathroom sink. Newo realized she must have left it there last night when she got home and showered. One of her friends Dukes sent her a message about classes being canceled until the start of next week, while they figured everything out and replaced some equipment that was ruined in the power surge. So Newo spent most of the day just enjoying free time. Trying out the toy she got from Sam's again. Eating a big meal before a small work out and going to bed. Her day was short and felt boring and wasted but it didn't matter much.

It was morning again. Newo did little more than sleep, and 'enjoy' her free time the day before but woke up, despite her huge meal last night very hungry. Craving donuts the ones from that place in the shopping district near where she lived. Joe's Donuts, or as everyone called it Jonuts. "Stupid tiny robots..." she mumbled. "Making me eat like a pig..." she groaned as he fished through her closet. Picking out a thin knee length short sleeveless hoodie, a pair of cloth short shorts that almost didn't fit, and thigh shocks. Not caring to waste much time pulled back her hair into a pony tail but left the long in front where her bangs would be.

She rushed down the street. Trying to get in a jog even though she was starving. Newo eventually arrived at the Joe's. The line was longer then she expected for this late in the morning but, after a short wait she got to the front "1 dozen glazed donuts, and a sweet tea. Can I please get the donuts fresh?" she asked.

"Yeah but you'll have to wait." the man behind the counter said in a slow slightly annoyed voice. "80 credits." he said ringing her up and scanning her device.

Newo sat down and waited almost 40 minutes she was called to the counter for her order. Sitting down in a booth she flipped the box open and started to eat, tearing them in half before eating them. They were fresh and hot the glaze wasn't even hardened on them. After every few big bites she would take a tiny sip of tea before going back to the donuts. She'd had four before she even noticed.

"A second on the lips is a lifetime on the hips."

Newo looked up and the first thing she saw was the OSEC uniform, then the recent memory of that voice and face kicked in as she recognized Rodriguez from her lift home the other day. What the hell was he doing here?

He smiled down at her not unkindly and then without asking plucked one of the doughnuts from her plate and crammed it in his mouth.

"You don't mind do you?" He asked with his mouth full of food, "call it taxi fair."

Before she could answer he snatched another and gave her a wink. "See you around."

And with that he was walking out of the store.

As soon as he turned to walk away Newo felt her skin crawl, and had she not been as hungry as she was she wouldn't have finished her food. But the craving was enough she finished the last few donuts. Leaving the donut shop she headed to the gym.

Sticking to her weekend routine. A few sets of squats, some yoga, and a short incline run before going home to shower. Newo fixed her hair up into a better version of the ponytail she wore earlier and but on her work uniform. A stereotypical 50's diner waitress uniform. And headed to work, not noticing the pink gift wrapped box by the door in her room.

That Evening...

It was a dull mess. No one was coming in tonight.

The weekends were usually more manic but with the city the way it was it wasn't a surprise. Only four people were on shift. The others were sent home. Mac the cook in the back a wide man but not fat, was of average height but no one dared to fight the bulldog faced man, Lisa the manager was an middle-aged woman with a beehive hairdo mostly brown but with minor gray streaks, Dukes he was Newo's friend and the busboy besides his uniform he looked very much like a prototypical hipster. Swooshed hair, thick glasses and a mustache. Finally Newo the only waitress on that night.

They were all for the most part standing around. Mac was singing some old song in that back. Dukes was playing some game she'd never hear of. Lisa was filing her nails looking off into the middle distance, and Newo was sitting on a stool spinning now and again as she blew a bubble with her gum.

"If no one's coming why are we staying open." she wondered as the bubble popped.

It was quiet enough that Newo heard the sound of the car pulling up outside and perked up somewhat at the prospect of an actual customer. A few moments passed and the door creaked open to reveal that now all too familiar face and OSEC uniform.

Rodriguez was accompanied by a woman, a cheap hooker by the looks of her and when she faltered in the door step blinking at the lights the cop snatched her arm and pulled her all to gently into the diner. Scanning the room his eyes fell on Newo and his face broke into a broad smile,

"Well I'll be..." he exclaimed in mock surprise, "Table for two for me and my... cousin here." he indicated the woman who blink stupidly and snorted a laugh.

"I aint your...." Rodriguez squeezed her arm and she yelped.

"Now now, don't be rude. Newo over there is a friend o mine." He looked over again, "Well come on miss, hop to it or there'll be no tip! Table for two pronto!"

Newo rolled here eyes, and as she hopped off the seat and Lisa squeezed her hand.

"If he gives you any trouble we'll take over." she told her.

Newo gave her a thankful smile and approached them. "Please follow me." she said.

Taking them over to a booth, and once they had sat down handed them a menu.

"The special tonight is a Monte Cristo with seasoned fries." she said faking her 'required' peppiness as she sat down the menu. "But what can I get you to drink?" she asked, holding a pencil to her order pad. This place went all out with the feeling of an old Earth eatery.

"I'll take a large bowl of chili fries and two beers." he replied without looking down at the menu.

"Um...sir we don't serve alcohol." Newo responded.

"Well how about you rustle up a couple of shakes, chocolate?" he glanced at the woman and she shrugged, "Chocolate." he confirmed, "and one for yourself darling."

"No thank you, I am working. Okay coming right up." she said. Newo walked back to the kitchen window and gave Mac the paper. Mac just looked past her.

Squinting at him. "Don't like the freak give you any trouble." his gruff but caring voice said.

"I won't Mac." Newo responded as he got him their drinks and went back to the take, carrying them on a large round try and sitting them down one at a time.

"It'll be ready in just a few minutes, we're making them hot and fresh. Just like mama used to make." Newo rattled off her practiced 'speech' the was the norm for a normal day, over done muscle memory. This was anything but a normal day or week for that matter.

"My mama walked out when I was ten and Lisa here, well you know I never asked?"

"She died." the woman called Lisa replied, looking away.

"Crack whore?" Rodriguez pushed and Lisa shrugged.

"Too bad.. to bad." murmured the cop in mock sympathy. "Say Newo, you don't mind if I call you Newo do you? No? good, so why dont you sit your hot cheeks down and talk while your chef cooks up those hot fries. Perhaps Lisa will tell us some stories about her crack whore mother."

"Fuck you." Lisa replied with no real passion and the cop laughed.

"You hear that Newo? You hear how she speaks to me? It's enough to make a guy angry."

"Look I'm sorry I..." Lisa suddenly turned all apologetic and Newo could see the fear in her eyes.

"No, no." Rodriguez put his hands up to calm her, "I understand I was being rude. I apologise to both of you. I have a... strange sense of curiosity, I ask about things that I should not. It's a cop thing. Makes relationships difficult I can tell you!" he barked a laugh, "Ask one of my ex wives if you don't believe me. I mean when I checked the number of your clinic on my call history Newo and just out of interest you understand I called in and spoke to the man... well I couldn't help but drop by and see you."

He looked her up and down and whistled. "Had me fooled."

"Yes, that's the point." Newo responded dryly "You aren't meant to realize it." she added. "But it's not your business." said Newo wanting to shout many other ruder things but he was a cop and a customer. Newo looked at her boss who was now staring at the counter pretending to wipe up a non-existent spill. "If I sit will you stop being harassing her about her mother?" she asked.

"Sure thing." Rodriguez grinned motioning for Newo to take a seat.

Newo sat, near him. Not wanting to. But wanted him to leave Lisa alone and not wanting to sit near the woman who looked like a stray cat. "There." she said in a very sarcastic tone as she adjusted her glasses.

"Now, explain why you dug into my business?" she said shifting her seat, not realizing how uncomfortable these seats were in her uniform the needed resizing.

"Like I said," Rodriguez replied, "It's just that damned curiosity of mine. It's a curse I tell you, but here we are and It got me wondering. These appointments of yours have to be expensive? Can't see this place making you enough to make ends meet. How would you like to make a little more cash on the side. I am always looking for smart young girls with an open mind especially when the provide a little "flavour" like you."

Newo held back a river of swear words. "This isn't to pay for the appointments." she answered. "And if you are suggesting I become something like this strung out bint. You have some nerve." she added. She wasn't able to hold back her venom even to a person in uniform. He obviously wasn't on duty, and if he was he was breaking the rules anyway. Newo started to get up from the seat.

"Fuck you bitch." Snapped the whore just as Rodriguez grabbed Newo's wrist and squeezed just shy of causing any real pain, for a moment his face was an image of fury, but then with a forced laugh he broke the mood and his grip letter her go.

"I get it, I get it. Let's say you take some time to think it over. A few small favours for me and you could kiss this place goodbye, get yourself set up for life."

Newo let out a half snort laugh. "You think I have a bad life?" she said rolling her eyes.
"You must not a dug too far into my business then." said Newo, just as Mac said "Order Up." and slapped the bell with his spatula. Newo walked over and took the two plates and sat them down. "Enjoy your meal." she said rather cold before going back to her seat at the counter. Trying to ignore the man behind her staring her up and down.

The two finished their meals and left without saying anything more really. Just spoke to each other but barely. It was a few more hours of work and Newo was sent home.

Annoyed by the day she threw her door open and it bounced back a bit having hit something. "What...?" she mouthed as she leaned down to look at the box, now dented a bit from the doors assault. Newo opened to box dumping out what she original thought to be a club of some kind. But then she noticed shape, a shape she knew, but the size was comical. She lifted it from the floor, a first more curious then disgusted.

Even with her long fingers they didn't quite touch wrapping around it. Inside was an accompanying note. "Get some practice ;)" Seeing the message she threw the box and its contents into her closet. It was to late to throw it out today but she would.

She was going to report that man.

(joint post LSP and LargeHobbit)

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